On Being Real, Looking Good and Greater Intimacy

Just being real about my thoughts.
Since my post last week with more (though not all) specifics about our Marriage Crisis that I had only alluded to before, I have received many private messages about how encouraging that post was. Several people forwarded the post to a friend who they thought might be encouraged by our story. One person even tweeted it. Which is great, although I might have written it differently if I knew that it would be passed along as encouragement to those who need it.

My dad thinks I'm being brave. I think I'm just being real. When I share something that exposes some difficulty I've had, I'm more concerned about being real than looking good. The thing is, I believe that when everyone is trying to look good, no one can be real. That isn't very good for relationships.

I think that it happens a lot in some church-y circles. I'm not sure why this is, exactly, but I suspect that it has to do with a misunderstanding of law and grace. (In fact, I wrote a whole post about it on my former blog. I was quite worked up about the issue because it hit very close to home for me.) Being concerned about looking good at the expense of being real is not good. It might be church-y, but it's not godly.

It hinders intimacy. My husband and I have been talking about this lately. Intimacy in marriage isn't all about getting hot and heavy (though there is that!). It's about letting the other person see your weaknesses and knowing that they aren't going to love you any less or treat you any different because they've seen it. It's about being okay with letting them know that you are not okay. It's about loving no matter what. It's an atmosphere of safety where you can know you are loved "as is."

Adam and Eve were intimate. "They were naked and not ashamed (Gen. 2:25)." According to Gesenius's Lexicon, the Hebrew word "naked" could also be used as "ragged." Intimacy is being comfortable enough to share yourself as you really are, your nakedness, sometimes, but also your raggedyness

I knew a woman who had never let her husband see her without her makeup and hair done. She went to bed with her makeup on and she woke up early so that she could do her hair and makeup before he woke up. I can't even imagine the kind of determination it takes to not be seen "as is" for even one week let alone till death do us part. I'm a little sad for her, actually.

On a girl's night out many years ago, a friend shared about her unfortunate need to poop on the evening of her wedding. She laughed as she told us how horrified she was about it. "What would he think of her?" she thought as she sat on the pot.

Guess what?

We all poop! 

We all have things we're insecure about, things that we're not proud of, things we don't want people to know about us. We are all raggedy. The sooner we can just admit it, the better it will be for intimacy. In marriage, or in any relationship. 

JD and I both can point to a certain event in the beginning of our marriage when we both thought "oh, crap!" But we didn't talk about our crap with anyone. No one. It was too embarrassing to admit, too humbling to acknowledge. We didn't want anyone to know. What would they think of us if they knew? It affected our intimacy with each other and our intimacy with others. We were hiding something. Ultimately, it affected our intimacy with God. How could we be intimate with God if we weren't honest with Him about our crap? 

When our marriage exploded [insert bad diarrhea joke here], we had to reach out to others and let them see us "as is". It wasn't pretty. There were some people who did treat us differently and that made us sad, but it was okay because we found out who was safe and who wasn't -- a very important thing to know. Still, there were others who let us lean on them in our time of need, who supported us when we needed it, who let us know that they loved us no matter what. We wouldn't have known that intimacy in friendship if we hadn't been [forced to be] honest.

Once we were able to be honest about it, and bring it to light, we were able to get the help we needed. And we were able to be held accountable, which was huge. We couldn't do it on our own.

Something I've learned about intimacy, too, is that there are limits to who you should be intimate with. Just like there are safe and unsafe people, there is also the issue of appropriate and inappropriate people. Not everyone needs to know my deepest thoughts. But my husband does need to know my deepest thoughts. And there are some thoughts that only he should know. I learned that the hard way, by sharing inappropriately. It hurt our intimacy. That's why, although I am transparent here, I am careful about what I share here too.

We wonder how many Christian marriages are suffering but, like we didn't, don't talk about it for fear of what others might think. Interestingly, because we've gone through our Crisis and have been honest about it, we are a safe place for others to be real about their own struggles. There are a lot of raggedy people out there. A lot more than we know.

So we've made the decision to just be honest about our story. It is what it is. It's still being written. And for that reason, I'm willing to share my story - even the mundane and the crappy parts - publicly on my blog. I hope it encourages others to be real and not to feel like they have to act all church-y when they are feeling really crappy. I hope that it gives them hope and points towards greater intimacy with God, who is really very real, very good and very safe. 

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, 
then we have fellowship with each other, 
and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 
But if we confess our sins to him, 
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 
1 John 1:7-9

Linking up with A Royal Daughter's Desire to Inspire.


Lucy said...

Amen and Amen!Interesting point and so true. God has sent you; my friend for such a time as this....
Love and prayers~ Lucy.

Amy said...

I read a post like this and just want to sit down and have a real long face-to-face visit, even though in some ways I feel like we just did from my reading your words. So much wisdom here. I agree about having wisdom on knowing who's safe, and who isn't. Sadly, many of the ones who aren't safe are the ones with explosions going on and they just keep sitting on it hoping it'll go away. Carrying the analogy here. . . eeek. Gee, guess they might be wearing diapers. Anyway, thank you for your honesty and authenticity and yes, bravery.
Do you want to know something cool? I'd read your other post, but still haven't commented because I wanted to give a thoughtful one and didn't have time to focus. Well, a raggedy situation came up between then and now, and I thought of your story. I have chills now. God used it to help me with what I faced with a dear one to my heart. Keep following God, sharing as he leads. I know you will. And I know it's a blessing to many.

Anne Bickle said...

Thanks for letting me know that, Amy. That is really cool. I'm so glad. I do wish we could have a face to face visit. I know we'd have a lot to talk about. xo!

Anne Bickle said...

Thanks, Lucy. That is so humbling. And encouraging. Blessings on you. xo said...

I loved this.

gayle t. said...

Minus the part about marriage (since I'm not . . .) this sounds like I wrote it myself. I mean, it's much prettier than if I had written it, but the ideas behind it sound like my own thoughts. This is the second post today I've read that is along these lines. And I woke up, like, SUPER lonely this morning. I was supposed to find this prior post of yours, I am sure of it. Thank you for sharing. I try to be authentic. No, actually, I don't try. I just kinda wear my heart on my sleeve all of the time, it's hard for me not to, but I think there are too many times I don't hear anything back that I wonder if it matters? Apparently, it does. I think. ?

Gayle | Grace for Gayle


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